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The ‘2°C capital stock’ for electricity generation: Committed cumulative carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector and the transition to a green economy

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Listed:
  • Pfeiffer, Alexander
  • Millar, Richard
  • Hepburn, Cameron
  • Beinhocker, Eric

Abstract

This paper defines the ‘2°C capital stock’ as the global stock of infrastructure which, if operated to the end of its normal economic life, implies global mean temperature increases of 2°C or more (with 50% probability). Using IPCC carbon budgets and the IPCC’s AR5 scenario database, and assuming future emissions from other sectors are compatible with a 2°C pathway, we calculate that the 2°C capital stock for electricity will be reached by 2017 based on current trends. In other words, even under the very optimistic assumption that other sectors reduce emissions in line with a 2°C target, no new emitting electricity infrastructure can be built after 2017 for this target to be met, unless other electricity infrastructure is retired early or retrofitted with carbon capture technologies. Policymakers and investors should question the economics of new long-lived energy infrastructure involving positive net emissions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pfeiffer, Alexander & Millar, Richard & Hepburn, Cameron & Beinhocker, Eric, 2016. "The ‘2°C capital stock’ for electricity generation: Committed cumulative carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector and the transition to a green economy," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 1395-1408.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:179:y:2016:i:c:p:1395-1408
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.02.093
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:118:y:2018:i:c:p:482-491 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ashwin K Seshadri, 2017. "Economics of limiting cumulative CO2 emissions," Papers 1706.03502, arXiv.org.
    3. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:518-524 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Clemens Gerbaulet & Casimir Lorenz, 2017. "dynELMOD: A Dynamic Investment and Dispatch Model for the Future European Electricity Market," Data Documentation 88, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Wei Jin & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2018. "Capital Accumulation, Green Paradox, and Stranded Assets: An Endogenous Growth Perspective," Working Papers 2018.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Sam Fankhauser & Frank Jotzo, 2017. "Economic growth and development with low-carbon energy," CCEP Working Papers 1705, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    7. repec:eee:eneeco:v:71:y:2018:i:c:p:149-160 is not listed on IDEAS
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    12. Mikel González-Eguino & Antxón Olabe & Teresa Ribera, 2017. "New Coal-Fired Plants Jeopardise Paris Agreement," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-4, January.
    13. Audoly, Richard & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Guivarch, Céline & Pfeiffer, Alexander, 2018. "Pathways toward zero-carbon electricity required for climate stabilization," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 225(C), pages 884-901.
    14. Rick van der Ploeg, 2017. "Race to Burn the Last Ton of Carbon and the Risk of Stranded Assets," CESifo Working Paper Series 6793, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Rick van der Ploeg & Armon Rezai, 2018. "Climate Policy and Stranded Carbon Assets: a Financial Perspective," OxCarre Working Papers 206, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
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    17. repec:gam:jeners:v:10:y:2017:i:7:p:956-:d:105509 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Scarpaci, Joseph, 2016. "Energy justice and the contested petroleum politics of stranded assets: Policy insights from the Yasuní-ITT Initiative in Ecuador," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 158-171.
    19. Pani, Marco & Perroni, Carlo, 2018. "Energy subsidies and policy commitment in political equilibrium," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 149-160.
    20. Rick can der Ploeg, 2017. "Race to Burn the Last Ton of Carbon and the Risk of Stranded Assets," OxCarre Working Papers 201, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    21. Alhamwi, Alaa & Medjroubi, Wided & Vogt, Thomas & Agert, Carsten, 2017. "GIS-based urban energy systems models and tools: Introducing a model for the optimisation of flexibilisation technologies in urban areas," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 1-9.
    22. repec:eee:appene:v:223:y:2018:i:c:p:93-102 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. repec:eee:renene:v:123:y:2018:i:c:p:382-397 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. repec:eee:appene:v:206:y:2017:i:c:p:815-828 is not listed on IDEAS

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